Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance Launches New Event with Unique Taste


LANSING, November 22, 2010 — The Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance, a partnership between the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), Travel Michigan and the Michigan Restaurant Association, will hold a conference entitled “Creating Michigan Culinary Destinations” on January 10, 2011 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

This one-day event will bring together a diverse range of Michigan businesses in an effort to network and share ideas to promote, enhance and celebrate Michigan’s many culinary assets.

“Michigan has an outstanding variety of food and dining experiences,” said Linda Jones, co-chair of the event. “This event is about growing this industry and ultimately growing Michigan. It’s about time we start taking advantage of rising interest in this segment of tourism.”

Culinary tourism is defined as “the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.” According to the Travel Industry Association (TIA), culinary tourism is a growing trend of the travel market as people are increasingly planning their travel around authentic, educational and entertaining food and beverage experiences. The popularity of this growing segment is also reflected by the increase of cable television channels and shows that focus on the link between travel and food.

“Food is a significant aspect of the tourist’s experience of a destination, driven by the growing trends of authenticity and the need to have a high-quality experience,” said Ian Yeoman, a leading travel and tourism trend analyst.

“There are a lot of influences that make this conference and the idea very unique,” says Susan Smalley, Director of C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems of Michigan State University. “Sustainable and local food systems will also be a focus of this event and how we put a ‘Michigan’ twist on what we do.”

This inaugural event features speakers Ari Weinzweig, co-founding partner and CEO of Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor; Debbie Geiger, owner of Florida-based Geiger & Associates, a public relations firm specializing in media marketing fr travel industry clients; and Melody Johnson, from the International Culinary Tourism Association, a tourism industry veteran and restaurant owner.

This event is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with matching funds provided by MDA’s Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. The grant was one of 745 selected by USDA under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a program designed to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops.

Registration for this event is $50 and is limited to 150 individuals. For more information, visit the website of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at www.michiganwines.com/CulinaryTourism.

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